I apologise personally if any confusion was caused or if anyone was misled.
The questions in the survey posted on this website were based on those raised with the compiler by the plotholders. They were not produced by the Committee of the society and do not reflect their views.
I apologise personally if any confusion was caused or if anyone was misled.
Missing polytunnel on Musgrove
Does anyone know about a missing polytunnel on Musgrove? Morgan Frances Jones ahs only just noticed it's missing, having not been up there for a bit. If you can shed any light, let us know.
The group is open to all Ashford allotment tenants and to allotmenteers from other areas who are interested.
Here are just a few of the comments from our membership so far. Names were given for all the comments, but I've removed them in case anyone prefers it that way.
The other side of the story
Letter from Julie Rogers at the council
I raised some of the concerns expressed to me, via Eileen Law, asking her to pass them on to the person in charge of the review at the council. Today I got a very courteous reply from Julie Rogers.
There still remains a question over the publicising of the survey. Hopefully most people will by now be aware of it, although we are concerned that some people without email have still not seen the posters - do talk to people on your site when you get the chance and make sure they know about it.
Below is most of Julie Rogers' reply. I have removed the part about the sending out of emails as it would not have made sense without publishing the whole correspondence.
"I apologise if you feel question 4 was weighted toward a price increase, please be assured that what we were trying to achieve here was an awareness of the cost of running the provision currently, prior to the full review. We were also trying to establish, if there were to be a price increase would allotment users relinquish their plots, naturally we don’t want empty plots and this needs to be factored into our thinking.
"This is purely a consultation at this stage, the findings of the survey will be reported to the Allotment Forum" (I think she means the Committee) "in June and suggested outcomes to the review will be discussed at that time. Once we have the views of the Allotment Forum we will then take forward recommendations to Cabinet for discussion and approval.
"During the review what has become clear is the high number of relinquished plots following annual in arrears billing. In my view this shows that some allotment users are not considering the time commitment required when taking on an allotment until a payment is required. I believe that by introducing a deposit scheme for new tenants and changing to either payment in advance, or part advance/part arrears payments, this commitment will be considered more fully, reducing the churn of allotments and the amount of resource required in an administrative capacity to respond to that churn. This in turn will drive down cost and enable the waiting list to be reduced to people who really are committed to the allotment provision.
"There is no intention to recommend to Cabinet huge price increases, I can’t rule out that price increases will be needed, but certainly we would recommend that any increase would be carried out in a phased way over a number of years, but we will also be highlighting the Community and Leisure provision to residents and the health and wellbeing value allotments bring."
If the council has no intention to raise rents that much, then the wording of question 4 is to say the least unfortunate. It is quite unambiguous. The full text is as follows:
"4. The current annual charge per perch per annum is £5. In order to break even the annual charge would need to rise to £21.52 per perch per annum. Which of the following options would you support?
A phased increase of £5.00 per perch per annum from April 2016 until the break even cost is reached.
A phased increase over two years, £13.26 per annum per perch from April 2016 and then to £21.52 per annum from April 2017.
A one off increase to £21.52 per perch per annum from April 2016
None of the above, I would give up my plot
By the way, a rod is the same as a perch.
May I remind you that you are all welcome to attend the Committee Meeting on June 3rd at 6.30pm at the Civic Centre. According to the meeting rules, any questions must be put though a member of the committee. As publicity manager I am happy to raise any questions which are sent to me with the request that I do so. The meeting room will only hold a certain number; if more than it will hold turn up unfortunately some will not be able to attend. A larger meeting room is not available that night.
In January the council promised that everyone who didn't have an email address on the council database would receive the survey in the post. This did not happen - instead a poster went up.
The publicity manager has now received a number of emails from people who say they never got the original email from Eileen, despite having their addresses on the council database. these people have been asked to recheck their inboxes and their spam folders.
If you are reading this and you never got an email, please let me know!
The survey set up by the council is supposed to be our chance to have our say about the next developments in allotment management. However the survey itself raises some very trenchant questions.
If you've already filled in your survey, you won't be able to see the questions again as you'll be locked out. A rough copy of the survey questions can be seen HERE
Allotment rental. We are given only one choice here - how would you like to pay your huge increase? A five-fold increase now, or tomorrow? Or would you prefer to give up your plot? What a choice to be offered!
We would like to ask the council if all health and wellbeing amenities offered by the local authority are totally self-financing. And how does this fit with the large amount planned to revamp the bandstand in the town centre? Every study shows that allotments have huge benefits to mental and physical health - benefits the council is supposed to support. Take a look at the page for Ashford Health and Wellbeing Board - also on the council's website!
We would also like to know if other authorities charge a full commercial rent for their plots!
Water charges. The council only puts forward a range of 'flat rate' options, which take no account of whether individual plotholders are wasteful with water or sensible. If you are a sensible water user, should you be expected to subsidise those who let it leak out, spray it around carelessly, or use sprinklers contrary to the terms of the contract?
You'd think the council would have asked for helpful suggestions, but no box for this is provided.
Management. The council offers the option of having the sites managed by Ashford Allotment Society. It's a nice idea, isn't it? The committee of "Ashford Allotment Society" has made it quite clear to the council that the Society is far too informal, poorly supported and lacking in volunteers to even consider the possibility. We have difficulties manning a trading store once a fortnight, the idea of managing 13 sites is really rather absurb.
What are your feelings about the survey? Let us know your views. They can be published without disclosing your name if you prefer.
If through all this, you've been wondering 'What is a rod and how do they use it to measure my allotment', then click here
THE DATE OF THE SPRING COMMITTEE MEETING HAS CHANGED TO JUNE 3RD. ALL OTHER DETAILS REMAIN THE SAME.
You are very welcome to attend the meeting as an observer. Any questions you would like raised can be either put through your allotment rep, or if that isn't convenient, you may send them to me, the publicity manager, by email (or even phone on 01233 621352 if email isn't an option) and I will ensure they are raised for you.
Allotment BRING AND BUY in May!
Back by popular demand, this May there are 3 'bring and buy' dates at the Trading Store,
This website is happy to publicise all garden-related events.